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Senator Susan Collins Has Met Her Last Campaign

October 15, 2020

One of the long-standing behavioral issues that Maine Senator Susan Collins has exhibited, time and again, is the attempt to be all things to all people. She hems and haws and plays like an innocent lamb who has no idea the forest is filled with carnivores. She accepts the most crazy promises from the Republican Party in exchange for her votes and then seems to forget that she never receives what was promised. Truth is, of course, she knew all along there was nothing to be returned for her conservative votes, but that never stopped her wishy-washy statements to her constituents.

This year the voters around the nation are not in the mood to allow Republicans to cross them again. This year at the polls there is a political price to be paid for the way Republicans have acted and voted. This year the Maine voters are going to send Collins back to the land of potatoes.

Let me state up-front that the Republican Party needs moderates and centrists and women who understand the right to reproductive rights. I have long argued for the hard-right to be tempered within the party, and have voiced my concern for the most rabid conservatives who win primaires, when that party needs to grasp the changing demographics of the nation. On paper, it would seem Collins is one voice that could leverage her caucus away from the cliff that it too often wishes to send the nation over with bizarre policy ideas. But Collins, in practice, is weak and has proven not to be able to master her role. In fact, as we know, she has made it worse.

Today The New Yorker has a must-read that lines up the dots to show why this is the last campaign for Collins.

Perhaps the most politically contentious vote that Collins cast, however, was her decision to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, two years ago, after allegations of sexual assault were made against him by Christine Blasey Ford. Collins was the last undecided senator to announce her decision to confirm Kavanaugh. In the days leading up to her vote, her office in Washington, D.C., had been occupied by activists—many of whom had travelled overnight on buses from Maine—who sat under the decorative lobster traps and buoys and told Collins’s aides stories of having survived sexual assault. When Collins finally delivered her decision on the Senate floor, her enthusiasm for Kavanaugh seemed so unequivocal (she found Ford’s allegations unsubstantiated by the witnesses who testified in the Senate, and described Kavanaugh as “an exemplary public servant, judge, teacher, coach, husband, and father”) that it became difficult to believe that the delay had ever been a tortured consideration of the circumstances. Instead, it seemed to be a calculated and successful gamble by Collins to earn the full attention of the national media. In the days that followed, a coalition of progressive organizations in Maine raised more than three million dollars in so-called rage donations, which would be given to Collins’s still-unknown Democratic opponent after the Maine Democratic primary, in July, 2020. Whatever her national reputation had been before, Collins now came to be known on “Saturday Night Live” for a single quality: a theatrics of thoughtful consideration which covered her role in her Party’s refusal to challenge Trump. (“Oh, please, the last thing I wanted to do was make this about me,” Cecily Strong said, while playing Collins on “S.N.L.,” following the senator’s support for Kavanaugh. “That’s why I told everyone to tune in at 3 p.m., so you could watch me tell all my female supporters, ‘Psych!’ ”)

The jokes came out again during the impeachment hearings, when Collins, after expressing that she was “disappointed” that the Senate did not decide to call more witnesses, concluded that the House of Representatives had not met the burden of proof and voted to acquit the President. The Collins line that many people in Maine, from a high-school student to a farmer, recited back to me, with sarcasm and bitterness, did not come from a speech on the Senate floor but from a CBS interview after the hearings: “I believe that the President has learned from this case,” Collins had told Norah O’Donnell. “The President has been impeached. That’s a pretty big lesson.” She added, “I believe that he will be much more cautious in the future.”

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